The W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Molecular Structure (CMoIS) is the first comprehensive X-ray crystallographic facility at a predominately undergraduate institution. Kantardjieff established CMoIS in 1994 while serving on the faculty at Cal State Fullerton and brought the Center to CSUSM in 2011 when she became the founding dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.
X-ray crystallography is a precise means of imaging the structure of a molecule, such as protein or DNA. Molecular structure can provide research scientists in a variety of fields, such as materials science or medicine, with valuable insights into the relationship between the structure of matter and its properties or function. One such area of research is structure-guided drug design, which explores the manner in which drugs function and interact with other molecules. Practically everything known about the structure of matter at or near the atomic level of detail comes from X-ray diffraction analysis. Yet because X-ray diffraction is a specialized method requiring expertise and dedicated equipment, CSUSM is one of few undergraduate institutions able to engage students, faculty and post-doctoral fellows in crystallography.
CMoIS is a core facility for the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology, whose mission it is to develop a professional biotechnology workforce. In addition, CMolS has been the only member laboratory from a non-Ph.D. granting institution of one of the first National Institute of Health funded structural genomics consortia – a group of more than 150 researchers worldwide who have been engaged in determining the structures of more than 400 proteins associated with tuberculosis.
Since 1997, CMoIS instruments, software and databases for research and training have been available to students and faculty in and outside of the Cal State system by remote Internet access. Groundbreaking for its time, CMolS still remains one of only a handful of laboratories that enable this kind of remote access.
The bounty of knowledge gained from the diffraction analysis of crystal structures is a key underpinning of science and technology in the 21st century.
Katherine Kantardjieff, Ph.D.